Tees region ‘reborn as industrial powerhouse’ as freeport status confirmed

The Tees region was one of just eight locations to be selected as a freeport zone during Rishi Sunak’s 2021 Budget.

The chancellor said freeports – “special economic zones with different rules to make it easier and cheaper to do business” – will be located at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber region, the Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

“Let’s take just one of those places – Teesside,” Mr Sunak said during a headline-grabbing budget speech in the commons on Wednesday.

“In the past it was known for its success in industries like steel, now when I look to the future of Teesside, I see old industrial sites being used to capture and install carbon, vaccines being manufactured, off-shore wind turbines creating clean energy for the rest of the country, all located within a freeport and a Treasury just down the road and a UK infrastructure bank only an hour away.”

In developing the Tees freeport bid, Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen worked closely with all five local councils along with local businesses that rely on the River Tees, as well as those across the region.

The Tees region’s freeport bid covered sites across the region, including Teesport, Teesworks, Wilton International, Teesside International Airport, the Port of Middlesbrough, the Port of Hartlepool, Liberty Steel and LV Shipping.

Major Ben Houchen said: “Future generations will look back on today and say this was the day Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool was reborn as an industrial powerhouse.

“The Teesside Freeport marks the start of us returning to our rightful place on the world stage as a global player in advanced manufacturing and engineering.

“Today’s announcement now means that investors from across the world will choose to bring their investment to Teesside instead of elsewhere in the world. Investment that previously would have wandered off to Holland or Germany will now come to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool – creating thousands of well-paid jobs for local people.

“With the largest development site in Western Europe, amazing infrastructure, a workforce to be envied and now the UK’s largest Freeport, we’ve put the building blocks in place for local people to benefit from the tsunami of jobs and investment that will come to our area in the weeks and months ahead.

“It’s taken nearly four years to turn this plan into a reality, but good things come to those who wait – and better things come to those who fight for what they deserve. The future of our area has been set on a new path. A path of prosperity, investment, jobs and a better life for local people.

“As we look towards our recovery from Covid, this allows us to not only recover but come back bigger, better and stronger than ever.”